Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs) are among the most common infections that women suffer from, with over half of adult women developing one at some point in their lives.
This infection of the urethra and bladder is characterized by a number of symptoms, including the frequent need to pee, cloudy urine with a foul odor, and pain, pressure or burning accompanying urination.
They principally occur when bacteria from the digestive system, E. coli, enter the urinary tract. If left untreated, a UTI can develop into a wider scale infection of the bladder or even kidneys.
While UTIs are not entirely preventable, some key precautions and dietary habits can help lower your risk of developing a UTI.
Urinate Regularly—and Often!
UTIs sometimes occur when individuals don’t urinate enough and bacteria are allowed to develop in the bladder. Urinating regularly can help keep your urinary tract clear. This is especially important before and after sexual activity.
While men can also develop UTIs, women have shorter urinary tracts, making them more at risk of infection. Try not to hold your pee and make sure to empty your bladder completely each time you go.
One of the most effective protectants against UTIs is a healthy diet. Cranberries and blueberries famously contain the compound proanthocyanidin which helps prevent E. coli from gathering on the walls of the bladder.
Fresh cranberries and blueberries, as well as their juice, can be beneficial. Both contain plenty of healthy antioxidants. However, avoid consuming sugary versions of these, as sugar can exacerbate bladder infections.
If you’re not fond of the tartness of cranberries, take cranberry pills to help prevent UTIs. Cranberry supplements have been shown to decrease UTI recurrence in adult women by up to 40%.
Though avoided by some for its pungency, garlic famously packs an antibacterial punch. Allicin, a compound that occurs naturally in garlic, can help fend off harmful bacteria.
Unfortunately, garlic loses a significant amount of its allicin content when cooked. So, raw garlic can be more beneficial for preventing UTIs.
Add Cinnamon to Your Favorite Snack
Anti-inflammatory and antibacterial cinnamon has been used for centuries as a spice and a medicine in one. Compounds in cinnamon may help prevent the spread of E. coli, the bacteria responsible for most UTIs, throughout the body.
Its role in reducing inflammation can also help those suffering from UTIs feel more comfortable. Add cinnamon powder to your shakes and cereal to reap its health benefits.
Drinking enough water will help flush out your bladder and urinary tract regularly, diminishing the opportunity for unhealthy bacteria to establish themselves there.
While how much water an individual needs to drink depends on multiple factors, a good rule of thumb is that your urine should be as close to clear as possible. Drink extra water after exercising, when consuming salty foods, and if you are prone to bladder-related issues.
Avoiding sugary drinks, caffeine, and alcohol may also be a good idea, as all of these can irritate your bladder.
Fermented foods, such as kefir, Greek yogurt, and sauerkraut, as well as probiotic supplements introduce colonies of beneficial bacteria to your body. These “good bacteria” will prevent harmful bacteria from growing in your body.
They also reduce inflammation and improve your body’s immune response to infection. Lactobacilli strains are particularly essential in maintaining vaginal and digestive health. Therefore, yogurt can help in preventing UTIs.
Take Vitamin C
Apart from its many health benefits, vitamin C makes your urine more acidic. This can help stave off infection by making your bladder and urinary tract inhospitable to harmful bacteria.
Some food high in vitamin C are broccoli, papaya, strawberries, leafy greens, and citrus fruits. Based on your preference, you can include some of these fruits and vegetables in your daily diet.
In a Pinch, Take Antibiotics
If you frequently suffer from UTIs, your doctor may prescribe antibiotics to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. Antibiotics are effective but quite harsh. They may encourage the development of resistant bacteria strains, so they are best used only when necessary.
Given how commonly they occur, UTIs are a major health concern for women. If you believe you have a UTI, it’s important to consult a doctor as soon as possible.
They are quite painful and can develop into a major health risk if left untreated. Even if you don’t have any symptoms of UTI, it’s important to do what you can to avoid developing one.
Fortunately, with the above tips, you can ward off UTIs and feel better!